Extraordinary Man in Crime and Punishment

In the book, Crime and Punishment (1866), Dostoevsky, a Russian writer, and philosopher, humiliates extraordinary man theory. Dostoevsky shows the Extraordinary man theory as illogical with the use of his characters. The signs of the ordinary and extraordinary man are manifest within Raskolnikov’s character, even though there are several characters that represent one of the two halves of the theory.

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The book portrays the Extraordinary man theory as imperfect and impossible, which is strange due to the central character devoting his life to the extraordinary man referred to in the theory. Dostoyevsky humiliates the Extraordinary man theory by using characters who try to become the Extraordinary Man; they contain traits of the extraordinary, yet none of them exemplifies it.

The Extraordinary Man Theory says that an ordinary man can never exceed the law while the extraordinary one can disobey the law to develop humanity. An ordinary man must live in obedience and expand the generation, thus making them inferior. An extraordinary man has the privilege to execute any crime. This right is not official rather it is determined by their sense of right and wrong to manage their difficulties. A man is not thought of extraordinary until he disobeys the law as they are to use their abilities to “move the world” (Dostoevsky, 243). As a consequence of believing they can alter the world, they end up increasing their self-importance. Raskolnikov considers himself an extraordinary man; he executed a crime which is against the law. Nonetheless, his guilt and sense of right and wrong can be believed that of an ordinary man as he fears the law. His guilt and sense of right and wrong causes his confession of his crime and this indicates that he has a sense of liability.

Raskolnikov’s dual individuality consists of both the ordinary and extraordinary man. His egotistical side could be considered as the extraordinary man because his traits confirm his idea that the murder of Alyona is for the greater good, and “not a crime” (Dostoyevsky, 69). On the other hand, his gentle and caring side could be judged as the ordinary man, as he has a sense of liability. The ordinary man in Raskolnikov’s character represents the good in Raskolnikov while the extraordinary side persuades him into insanity. Svidrigailov, one of Raskolnikov’s thwarts, thinks of himself to be an extraordinary man. He also commits crimes but unlike Raskolnikov, he is not embarrassed about his actions. However, he seeks liberation which can be understood as his death, and an extraordinary man would not have to liberate himself, as every action he makes is the right one. Razumihin is a man with numerous extraordinary qualities, “exceptionally good-humored and candid youth, good-natured to the point of simplicity…extremely intelligent…no limit to his drinking powers.” (Dostoyevsky, 50). However, he firmly believes in the law and would not disobey it. When Razumihin commits an action against the law, he cannot be thought of anything but ordinary. Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin is the wealthy “savior” of the Raskolnikov family. His self-esteem makes him believe his wealth makes him extraordinary. While this may be considered a great quality by Luzhin, it is not one of the principles of extraordinary by Dostoyevsky.

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